Monday, May 12, 2008

Are you coming to GA?

Fourth in a series of posts following the UUA Board meeting April 17-20.

I describe General Assembly (GA) as part revival meeting, part convention, and part tradeshow. Originally meant to be where the business of the UUA was conducted, it also provides a wealth of workshops, information tables, and every sort of book, jewelry, music, and information booth of interest to UUs or that you can stick a chalice on. For people wondering how to feel part of "something much larger", a trip to GA will usually do it.

First of all, there is the experience of being among thousands of people who actually have similar value systems to yours. There is a comraderie in the lunch lines, workshops, and plenaries that will start conversations easily, and have you meeting people all over the country. Our president, Rev. Bill Sinkford, is always inspiring and amazing, and watching Gini Courter run a plenary is worth coming for by itself. You will find more things to think about, books to read, and ideas to take back than you thought possible.

But what if you can't fly or drive to Ft. Lauderdale? Start making plans now to attend the one next summer in Salt Lake City. This was be our presidential election, with two extraordinary candidates, Rev. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales.

But you don't have to lose out on everything in Ft. Lauderdale. Most of the major events will be via streaming video - you can find out when they are by checking out the GA home page, and either watch in the privacy of your home on your computer, or better yet, set up a projector and screen at your congregation and invite others to join you and discuss what you saw afterwards. Maybe not as good as "being there" but a great way to catch the spirit.

Next post: Fellowship culture

Friday, May 2, 2008

Youth Ministry

Third in a series of posts following the UUA Board meeting April 17-21, 2008

In October of 2004 the Board passed a resolution “to request that the President convene a consultation for the purpose of renewing the Association's vision of its ministry for and with youth”. This 3 year Consultation on Ministry to and with Youth culminated with the Summit on Youth Ministry in July of 2007. From this process came the view that “a clear consensus emerged from both youth and adult stakeholders that the present continental structure of YRUU does not well serve the majority of UU youth or UU congregations.” [Excerpt from Frequently Asked Questions] A 15 member Youth Ministry Working Group was appointed to carry the recommendations of the Summit forward. Prior to the April Board meeting the YRUU Steering Committee (by all accounts a group of exceptional and committed young people) expressed their concerns about the Working Group to the UUA President and Board, primarily in the area of how youth were chosen for the Group, the high ratio of staff to youth on it, and concerns about funding: the current YRUU structure was terminating prior to the establishment of a new one. The latter point was of particular interest to the Board, because it meant there would be no "youth sanctioned" body to advise the Board in the interim. We passed the following resolution in response:

"The administration shall make the transition in youth ministry an institutional priority now. This process must be transparent and those responsible for implementation must be in authentic relationship with the youth community and its elected leadership. During this transition, the administration must provide monthly progress reports to the Board. The administration shall ensure that UUA support for youth ministry programming is maintained throughout the transitional period.

Philocrates comments:

I'm interested to know how trustees (individually or collectively) interpret the resolutions they passed regarding youth and young adult ministry.

In my opinion the Board is giving a clear signal to the YRUU Steering Committee and the other youth who are aware of this situation that they have been heard. I believe the administration, including Bill Sinkford and Kay Montgomery, are fully committed to making this process work and will insure that it does, with or without this resolution.

It is not unusual for an organization to discontinue one structure/program before another is firmly in place. Done intentionally, it can leave time for healing and preparing for what William Bridges calls "a new beginning". Done inadvertently, as I think was done here, leaves those depending on that program to founder. Unfortunately, The Youth Ministry Working Group did not start meeting until February as key people were on sabbatical, so it appears that momentum was lost, and the YRUU funding would sunset on June 30, without a mechanism in place to elect youth representatives for the interim. Continued funding will allow the YRUU Steering Committee to follow through on a their proposal to create a new interim advisory group to the UUA leadership and Youth Ministry Working Group.

Next post: Are you coming to GA?